19 YA Books Everyone Should Read 

YA-novels

I saw this article on BuzzFeed, which asked members of the BuzzFeed Community for the young adult novels they’d recommend to anyone, regardless of their age. I really loved it, as I’ve never thought of myself as a YA reader, but there are a number of suggestions here that I’m really interested in picking up. Here’s what they said…

1. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

“It’s a beautifully, tragically relevant book for young adults and adults alike. Unarmed, 16-year-old Khalil is fatally shot by a police officer, and his friend Starr, who is with him at the time, deals with the aftermath and the struggles of feeling like a second-class citizen her own country. It’s very engaging, and when I finished the book, I felt that I had learned something important.”

2. I’ll Give You The Sun and The Sky Is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson

“Her books are so beautifully written, I couldn’t pick between the two. Her characters are relatable she deals with topics like grief, sexuality, family, and coming to terms with who you are. Read her books. You will not regret it. I wish she would write more!”

3. Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

“It affected me emotionally more than any other book has in years. It’s beautifully quirky, with life lessons that are both nostalgic and currently relevant. I recommend it to everyone that asks me for a book recommendation.”

4. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz

“It’s about a Latino boy who doesn’t know his place in the world and discovers it in a truly beautiful way. As an LGBT Latinx teen it meant the world to me when I read it and changed a lot in my world. It helped in accepting who I was and I fell in love with its beautiful characters.”

5. A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly

” I’ve read it annually since I was 14, which is about 12 years now. It’s a beautiful, slightly eerie story set in the early 20th century about a girl who craves and seeks a career and education, despite familial and societal pressure to become a wife and caretaker, against the backdrop of a real-life murder. It’s as poignant as ever, definitely changed my life, and set me on a path of self-care and feminism.”

6. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

“It’s about a young Native American boy who deals with health issues due to being born with hydrocephaly, and is a budding comic book artist. He ends up going to a high school in the wealthier part of his town where he is the only Native American (besides the school mascot). It’s mostly about him overcoming his struggles. Heads up: There’s mentions of alcohol, drugs, death, and slurs.”

7. The His Dark Materials series by Philip Pullman

“The main character, Lyra, is charming, and the adventures are captivating. The books ask a lot of philosophical questions about the nature of the universe and of ourselves. It’s good reading for any age, and I get more out of it every time I re-read the series.”

8. Olive’s Ocean by Kevin Henkes

“It was one of my favourite YA books growing up, and still is to this day. It covers love, death, friendship, and does so in an eloquent way that doesn’t feel like the rehashing of the same story you read in every other book.”

9. Gracefully Grayson by Ami Polonsky

“It tackles the issue of being transgender in middle school and finally accepting who you really are. Some people accepted Grayson, some didn’t.”

10. The Raven Cycle series by Maggie Stiefvater

“It’s a beautiful series about the way age, socioeconomics, gender, race, and a world of other factors complicate the relationships we have with the people we love. It mixes fantasy and historical fiction with some hints of horror to tell the story of four teenagers on a quest to find the tomb of an ancient Welsh King. They have to work with psychics and a magical forest and ghosts and cars, it’s just amazing. It lifts my heart no matter how many times I read it.”

11. The Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin

“It’s amazingly well written and it’s a one-off, so you don’t have to worry about a whole series. It follows a genderfluid person named Riley and their struggles being genderfluid and having anxiety. The book is immensely captivating – I’m not going to lie, it made me cry. I’ve read it through 3 times in the year and a half it’s been out and it’s gotten better each time.”

12. Wonder by R.J. Palacio

“It should be required reading in life. I’ve read it for myself and with students several times and the story itself has moved me to tears, but it truly is a wonder to see the empathy the kids learned from the novel. An absolute must read.”

13. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

“Hands down my favourite book ever. It’s one of those books that straddles that strange line between modern YA and what we think is children’s literature. The writing is simple enough a younger reader can understand and, other than swearing and content that generally comes with the setting of WWII Germany, it’s fine for some younger readers.”

14. We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

“A story about a rich and distinguished family and a group of four friends who spend their summer at a private island where everything is not what it seems to be. Full of complex characters and mystery, that will suck you in from the first page. Both the adults and the teenagers are struggling with darkness within their own selves. The ending will definitely shock you and keep you wondering why you didn’t figure things out sooner. A must read.”

15. Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

“The premise may seem corny at first, but the excellent characterisation and lovely prose will pull you in. It grapples with some very deep and intense themes, and creates a fantasy world that manages to feel both familiar and truly unique.”

16. Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

Beauty Queens is the answer to that ‘Lord of the Flies but with women’ movie – it was one of the first super-intersectional feminist novels I read in high school, and it holds up.”

17. Code Name Verity and Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein

“World War II historical fiction written with astounding poignancy and poetry. This is a pair of books that will never leave my bookshelf.”

18. Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

“I finally got around to reading these recently and now I won’t stop talking about them to anyone who’ll listen. You’ll love Six of Crows for its fast-paced plot, but more so for its characters – the representation in these novels is seriously incredible, and it makes me feel all warm and fuzzy despite the fact that it’s about a band of criminals. The only bad thing about these books is that there’s only two of them.”

19. The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner

“A beautiful, completely gut-wrenching story about three friends in a small town looking toward their futures and how they will both escape their past and stay in touch in the future. I love this book so damn much.”

***

Via: https://www.buzzfeed.com/eleanorbate/young-adult-at-heart

Top Tips For Authors To Overcome Writer’s Block

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Anytime you sit down at the keyboard to punch out a few lines on your next project; there is always the risk that you cannot find the right groove or inspiration. The more you struggle to get the words out, the more frustrating and challenging it can become. Minutes turn to hours, and hours to days, and still nothing.

Writer’s block is not a unique situation; every writer, no matter how skilled and accomplished, will find times when inspiration seems lost. One of the tricks to being a successful writer is knowing where to look to get back that inspiration.

Finding the inspiration for writing is possible. Let’s take a look at some tips to overcome writer’s block:

1. Change of scenery

Start with something simple. Sometimes it is just about getting away from your desk and having a change of scenery. Go out into nature, take a walk. This action will help you relax, and a relaxed mind can more easily come up with cohesive thoughts and better sentences than a tense mind.

2. Passion

Identify what you are personally passionate about. Is there an issue in which you are primarily interested? Your interests may resonate with others, which would give you a willing audience wanting to read more on the topic.

From your passions, you may glean an outline for a book and begin to flesh it out the more you think about it. From your desires, a book may take seed and blossom.

3. Fresh & Unique

Search beyond what is considered conventional. Your next book should be filled with new ideas, something unique and exciting. Publishers look for book outlines that are out of the box, a book with a unique presentation or discussion. Try and be fresh.

4. Special Features

Look at the books of some of your favourite authors. Do they use a particular technique or feature you can emulate with your topic? What was it about those books that drew you in and begged you to read?

5. New Impressions

Maybe you need a new perspective. Do something new to jostle your thought process. Try something extreme such as skydiving or scuba diving; if that’s a bit too out there for you, go hiking or finally visit that odd restaurant with a different ethnic cuisine. New impressions and perspectives always have an effect on inspiration.

6. Freewriting

Freewriting is writing about a certain topic for 10-15 minutes, and can be used as a way to find a breakthrough in writer’s block. It is intended to get your thoughts flowing freely. You start with a prompt that could be an emotion, a place, or an experience.

Take that prompt and write about it for a short period. It is suggested to do this on a regular basis just to keep you thinking and writing and growing. An excellent example of the freewriting technique can be found here on wikiHow.

7. Interviews

Talking with a friend may sometimes help you identify a topic or area that is ready for you to explore and write. You can brainstorm. Discuss ideas with friends and try to imagine a storyline or plot for your new book. Your friends may have suggestions for you. It might be something you cannot see for yourself. Good friends are hard to find, so if you have one or two, trust their judgment.

There may be a subject matter expert in your region whom you could interview on the topic you have identified. Collect all the information you gain from these interviews. Organise the thoughts and ideas to determine if there is anything worth including in your new book.

8. Professional Help

If you have your topic but just cannot get the words to flow, you may need help from a writing professional. It is not about someone else writing the whole book, but it could be they give you some ideas on one particular topic which would be just enough to get the juices of your brain flowing to take over the project.

9. Inspiration from Other Writers

Sometimes it is beneficial to revisit the work of other successful writers. More than likely, great authors have gone through dry spells just as you have and can offer a nugget of wisdom to point you in the right direction. A great place to start is by looking up some of their great quotes about writing.

10. Sleep

One of the age-old suggestions for many crossroads in life is to sleep on it. That can be true with writing. You may have a few thoughts or ideas that just won’t gel. Maybe sleeping on it will be helpful.

As you go to bed thinking of your book and the ideas surrounding it you may have dreams that give you the inspiration you need.

Conclusion

Be reassured, writer’s block will not last forever. Certainly, it can be frustrating while you are in the middle of it. But by putting into practice some of the suggestions above, you will change your focus from writer’s block and put it back into writing. Just that movement alone could do the trick.

***

 

Via: https://www.justpublishingadvice.com/finding-inspiration-for-writing-a-bestseller

Should I Use A Publisher?

 

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As the self-publishing industry has grown and matured, it is natural that new service providers are now harnessing the growth in book publishing to create new businesses.

Over the last year or so, one of the biggest growth areas has been independent publishers. Many new authors are asking, ‘Should I use a publisher?’

For many reasons, the services of a publisher can offer many tempting benefits to an author, especially for those authors new to self-publishing.

For the computer and Internet savvy, self-publishing is quite easy, yet there could well be time-saving possibilities that a reliable and honest publisher could offer.

If an author can spend more time writing rather than fighting with technology and wasting hours on social media, this may be one very good reason to engage a publisher.

Independent publishers fall into two main categories. Those who offer ‘assisted‘ self-publishing, which is a service that is usually charged for with a ‘one off fee‘ to get a book correctly formatted, a cover designed, perhaps a well-written book description and then publishing on retail platforms such as Kindle and Smashwords.

The second is a full-service publisher, who will manage publishing, marketing, sales and then make their money from a percentage of your book sales royalties.

Should I use a publisher?

Before signing up with a publisher, ask these questions BEFORE you sign.

As with any service providers, there are good and bad, so make sure you do your homework before entering into an agreement.

If you are considering using the services of an independent publisher, here are ten questions that you really need to ask before signing up.

1. Do I retain all rights to my book?

There should be no reason whatsoever for a publisher to ask for the rights to your book. Unless the publisher is offering you a substantial advance, which is highly unlikely, never sign away the rights to your book.

2. How do I terminate our publishing agreement?

So many problems can occur in any contractual arrangement. When considering a publishing agreement, never sign up or agree without knowing how the contract can be terminated. If the terms of termination involve losing the rights to your book, do not sign!

3. What is the total cost?

For assisted self-publishing this is very important. Make sure you get a detailed account in writing of what services will be performed, and how much you will be charged for each item. Make sure it is a fixed price and that you will not be charged for extras at a later date.

4. What services will you provide as my publisher?

Will you edit, copy edit or at least proofread my book before formatting and publishing it? Is there a charge for these services? Or am I responsible for undertaking the expense of preparing the final manuscript?

5. What will my royalty rate be and how often or when will I get paid?

A full-service publisher will take a percentage of your book sales royalty, so be certain of what this will amount will be. As royalties vary with every online retailer, from approximately 35% up to 70%, ask for a detailed explanation of how much the publisher will take in each case. Most importantly, how and when will your royalties be paid.

6. Will I get sales reports?

If your publisher manages your retailer accounts, you will probably not have access to this information, so you will have to rely on your publisher supplying you with sales and royalty reports on a regular basis. These should be supplied to you on at least a quarterly basis.

7. Who will promote your book?

A publisher of any worth should have a solid marketing platform, and preferably one with a sizeable mailing list. Of course, you will be expected to do a lot of book promotion for your own book, but be sure to ask how the publisher how they intend to market your book and maximise its sales opportunities.

8. How long has the publisher been in business?

An obvious question. Do your homework.

9. How many authors and titles does the publisher manage?

While a publisher may be new and have only a small stable, this may not be a bad thing, as you may receive more attention. Beware of small publishers that publish a vast amount of titles in a short period, as they won’t necessarily have the resources to give each author the time they deserve.

10. Can I contact a couple of authors who you currently publish?

This is by far the best way to find out of a publisher is worth considering, and what they are like to work with. If the publisher refuses, beware.

There are more questions of course, depending on what you expect or would like from an independent publisher, so make sure you ask your questions, before making any commitments.

***

Via:https://www.justpublishingadvice.com/should-i-use-a-publisher-10-questions-to-ask

Stephen King’s Reading List For Writers

Stephen-Kings-Everything-You-Need-to-Know-About-Writing-Successfully-in-Ten-Minutes

“If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools)
to write. Simple as that.” 

― Stephen King

In the afterword to his acclaimed guide On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, Stephen King shares the following reading list of 96 books, covering a diverse range of fiction and non-fiction titles.

Accompanying the list is this explanation:

These are the best books I’ve read over the last three or four years, the period during which I wrote The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon, Hearts in Atlantis, On Writing, and the as-yet-unpublished From a Buick Eight. In some way or other, I suspect each book in the list had an influence on the books I wrote.

As you scan this list, please remember that I’m not Oprah and this isn’t my book club. These are the ones that worked for me, that’s all. But you could do worse, and a good many of these might show you some new ways of doing your work. Even if they don’t, they’re apt to entertain you. They certainly entertained me.

  1. Peter Abrahams, A Perfect Crime
  2. Peter Abrahams, Lights Out
  3. Peter Abrahams, Pressure Drop
  4. Peter Abrahams,Revolution #9
  5. James Agee, A Death in the Family
  6. Kirsten Bakis, Lives of the Monster Dogs
  7. Pat Barker, Regeneration
  8. Pat Barker, The Eye in the Door
  9. Pat Barker, The Ghost Road
  10. Richard Bausch, In the Night Season
  11. Peter Blauner, The Intruder
  12. Paul Bowles, The Sheltering Sky
  13. T. Coraghessan Boyle, The Tortilla Curtain
  14. Bill Bryson, A Walk in the Woods
  15. Christopher Buckley, Thank You for Smoking
  16. Raymond Carver, Where I’m Calling From
  17. Michael Chabon, Werewolves in Their Youth
  18. Windsor Chorlton, Latitude Zero
  19. Michael Connelly, The Poet
  20. Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness (Free eBook – Gutenberg / Kindle)
  21. K.C. Constantine, Family Values
  22. Don DeLillo, Underworld
  23. Nelson DeMille, Cathedral
  24. Nelson DeMille, The Gold Coast
  25. Charles Dickens, Oliver Twist (Free eBook – Gutenberg / Kindle)
  26. Stephen Dobyns, Common Carnage
  27. Stephen Dobyns, The Church of Dead Girls
  28. Roddy Doyle, The Woman Who Walked into Doors
  29. Stanely Elkin, The Dick Gibson Show
  30. William Faulkner, As I Lay Dying
  31. Alex Garland, The Beach
  32. Elizabeth George, Deception on His Mind
  33. Tess Gerritsen, Gravity
  34. William Golding, Lord of the Flies
  35. Muriel Gray, Furnace
  36. Graham Greene, A Gun for Sale (aka This Gun for Hire)
  37. Graham Greene, Our Man in Havana
  38. David Halberstam, The Fifties
  39. Pete Hamill, Why Sinatra Matters
  40. Thomas Harris, Hannibal
  41. Kent Haruf, Plainsong
  42. Peter Hoeg, Smilla’s Sense of Snow
  43. Stephen Hunter, Dirty White Boys
  44. David Ignatius, A Firing Offense
  45. John Irving, A Widow for One Year
  46. Graham Joyce, The Tooth Fairy
  47. Alan Judd, The Devil’s Own Work
  48. Roger Kahn, Good Enough to Dream
  49. Mary Karr,  The Liars’ Club
  50. Jack Ketchum, Right to Life
  51. Tabitha King, Survivor
  52. Tabitha King, The Sky in the Water
  53. Barbara Kingsolver, The Poisonwood Bible
  54. Jon Krakauer, Into Thin Air
  55. Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird
  56. Bernard Lefkowitz, Our Guys
  57. Bentley Little,  The Ignored
  58. Norman Maclean, A River Runs Through It and Other Stories
  59. W. Somerset Maugham, The Moon and Sixpence (Free eBook – Gutenberg)
  60. Cormac McCarthy, Cities of the Plain
  61. Cormac McCarthy, The Crossing
  62. Frank McCourt, Angela’s Ashes
  63. Alice McDermott, Charming Billy
  64. Jack McDevitt, Ancient Shores
  65. Ian McEwan, Enduring Love
  66. Ian McEwan, The Cement Garden
  67. Larry McMurtry, Dead Man’s Walk
  68. Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana, Zeke and Ned
  69. Walter M. Miller, A Canticle for Leibowitz
  70. Joyce Carol Oates, Zombie
  71. Tim O’Brien, In the Lake of the Woods
  72. Stewart O’Nan, The Speed Queen
  73. Michael Ondaatje, The English Patient
  74. Richard North Patterson, No Safe Place
  75. Richard Price, Freedomland
  76. Annie Proulx, Close Range: Wyoming Stories
  77. Annie Proulx, The Shipping News
  78. Anna Quindlen, One True Thing
  79. Ruth Rendell, A Sight for Sore Eyes
  80. Frank M. Robinson, Waiting
  81. J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
  82. J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azakaban
  83. J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
  84. Richard Russo, Mohawk
  85. John Burnham Schwartz, Reservation Road
  86. Vikram Seth, A Suitable Boy
  87. Irwin Shaw, The Young Lions
  88. Richard Slotkin, The Crater
  89. Dinitia Smith, The Illusionist
  90. Scott Spencer, Men in Black
  91. Wallace Stegner, Joe Hill
  92. Donna Tartt, The Secret History
  93. Anne Tyler, A Patchwork Planet
  94. Kurt Vonnegut, Hocus Pocus
  95. Evelyn Waugh, Brideshead Revisited
  96. Donald Westlake, The Ax

That’s a lot of recommendations. How many on this list have you read? If you’re anything like me, you’ve got an even bigger TBR pile now – best get cracking!

Via: http://www.aerogrammestudio.com/2014/03/04/stephen-kings-reading-list-for-writers/

Writing Prompt: Spooky TV

Spooky TV

As we are heading towards Autumn/Fall and my preferred time of the year: Halloween, today’s writing prompt has that theme in mind.

Write a Halloween special for your favourite TV show. Whether it’s Gossip Girl, Games of Thrones or Eastenders – put these well loved characters into a spooky situation and then let your imagination run wild. Think Simpsons Halloween Special and have fun with it.

Go!

 

How to Overcome the Fear of Sharing Your Writing

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Keeping with the theme of fear, and overcoming it, here is some more great advice from blogger Leo Babauta for getting to grips with sharing your writing with the world, whether that’s blogging, writing short stories for magazines, or novel writing.

You’d think that after eight years of public blogging and writing books, I’d be completely free of fear when it comes to putting my writing out in public. You would, of course, be wrong. Hitting “publish” still makes me nervous.

I still get little shivers of nervousness when I hit the “Publish” button on any post, and bigger fears still when I publish a print book or ebook. Writing in public is like speaking in public, if you’re doing it right. You’re baring your soul for all to judge, and there are few things as scary as that. But I’m here to tell you that it’s not only doable, it’s worth the effort to overcome that fear.

I’ve had several people write to me recently asking me about their fears about writing their blog. One person said they deleted their blog because they thought what they’d written was too lame. She said, “I thought it would be great if you could share how to put yourself out there in public and not worry about it.”

Well, I wish I could share the secret to not worrying about putting your writing in public, but I don’t think it exists. It’s scary as hell.

And yet I manage to do it nearly daily. Here’s how:

Write for One Person

You may have heard this advice before from more than one author. It’s impossible to write for thousands of people at once – that’s like trying to have a conversation with a stadium full of people. Who are you addressing? What tone do you use? What do they care about? So instead I follow Kurt Vonnegut’s advice to write for one reader (for him it was his sister). For me, it’s often different people I care about (my wife, one of my kids, a sister, a friend, a specific reader with a problem). I try to write like I’m talking directly to them, and though I change the style a bit to fit my blog’s style, that’s what I have in mind as I write. This has the added benefit of not being as scary – you’re just talking to one person.

Start with a Tiny Audience

When I started my site Zen Habits, my only readers were my mom and my wife (thanks you guys!). It wasn’t too scary to write for them. Then I got a few more readers, but by then my comfort level grew and the fear wasn’t overwhelming. Then I had 50 readers, and it was like a big group of friends, because everyone was supportive. By the time I had hundreds and then thousands of readers, I felt like I knew what I was doing (nevermind that I still don’t). One of the great things about blogging, for writers, is that your comfort level grows as your audience does.

Get Over the Idea of Perfection

We freeze up when we think of the idea that we need to write the “perfect” blog post or book, so that everyone thinks highly of us. I’m telling you now: there’s no such thing as perfect. Not everyone will think your writing is the greatest. And that’s okay. If you accept that there will be some things you do that are good, and others that are less than good, and that’s part of being a human; you can embrace a wider range of possibilities. You don’t have to hit a home run with every swing or score a goal with every touch.

Be Motivated by Learning

Why should you even attempt to write when it’s so scary? Because if you don’t do the things that you’re afraid of, you never learn anything. The best learning comes when you try something you don’t know how to do, and make mistakes, and then learn how to fix those mistakes. And then repeat. If you want safe, you give up on learning.

Be Motivated by Helping

I write because people have said it’s helpful. They like seeing how someone else solved a problem, or that it’s even possible to overcome, or at the very least they like knowing that there are other people out there going through the same thing. When people give me that kind of feedback, I feel great, and I can’t wait to do the scary thing again.

Writing is transformative. It changes you, and the reader. You get feedback from the reader and learn from them. You get accountability and you have to reflect on what you’re learning. You become greater from the attempt to overcome the fear.

There has been no greater achievement in my life, other than raising my kids, than overcoming the thunderhold of fear and writing for all of you.

***

Via: http://lifehacker.com/how-to-overcome-the-fear-of-sharing-your-writing-in-pub-1646791988